BLYTH were taken by surprise by a fired up Barnard Castle who hit the ground running at Plessey Road on Saturday.
Within 90 seconds the visitors were ahead when centre Craig Dominick, who had an outstanding game, scythed through the Blyth defence, evading several tackles to score.
Fly-half Adam Haynes added the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
Within five minutes further misfortune befell Blyth when they lost second-row forward Karl Rose with a shoulder injury, with the early diagnosis suggesting his season is over.
Experienced Wayne Dobson replaced Rose, but by now Blyth were playing catch-up rugby and never quite making it.
A brace of penalties from fly-half Andy Sutherland put Blyth back in touch at 6-7, but they were hit by Dominick with his second try converted by Haynes to stretch the visitors lead to 14-6. Another pair of penalties from Sutherland resulted in a conversion and the other hitting the post to peg back the lead to 14-9 at the break.
Blyth exchanged Barry Harnett with Steve Long at wing forward but the visitors were in no mood to relax and the terrible twins of Dominick and Haynes struck again within 90 seconds of the restart with a try and conversion.
Dominick once again evading would-be tacklers to score.
The visitors were well worth their 21-9 lead at this stage.
The Blyth pack, who for the most part have enjoyed an excellent season, seemed out of kilter with passes going astray and being consistently beaten to any loose balls at the breakdown.
One thing not lacking in Blyth’s make-up is fighting spirit and in the last quarter of the game they forced themselves back into contention with a try from hooker Martin Stephenson to make the score 14-21.
Blyth kept up the pressure and right at the end of normal time scored through second-row Dobson leaving the conversion to level the score, but from an acute angle the kick hit the post and Barnard Castle survived, and in truth over the 80 minutes were the better team.
Some small solace for Blyth was the bonus point gained by losing by seven points or less.
Skipper Tony Smithson, while disappointed with the result, said: “Looking on the positive side we are still second in the league with a ten-point lead over third place, and hopefully this will act as a wake-up call that there is still a lot of work to do.”
Blyth’s final game before the holiday break is away to Winlaton Vulcans on Saturday, kick-off 2.15pm.